Howard ZInn 6-Pack
"You wanna read a real history book?" Matt Damon asks Robin Williams in the movie Good Will Hunting. "Read Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States. That book'll knock you on your ass." It'll do that and more. Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States has sold more than 2 million copies. And it keeps on selling. Zinn's close friend Noam Chomsky said the book "changed the consciousness of a generation." Zinn's history from below approach was to foreground as he said, "the countless small actions of unknown people." It was a sharp departure from the standard Big Man theory of history: General so and so President so and so, etc.
Recorded at Reed College.
In a May 1976 column in The Boston Globe Howard Zinn wrote "Memorial Day should be a day for putting flowers on graves and planting trees. Also, for destroying the weapons of death that endanger us more than they protect us, that waste our resources and threaten our children and grandchildren." Sadly his column in the Globe was discontinued soon after. And even more sadly his words are evergreen. Veterans are still returning from foreign wars with lost limbs, bodies and souls.
If an honest history is ever written of the U.S. war on Iraq it may not be believed. It’s ten years since Washington launched its shock and awe attack. Remember: weapons of mass destruction, axis of evil, mobile chemical labs, slam dunks, Curveball, smoking guns, mushroom clouds, cakewalks, liberators, regime change and mission accomplished? The architects of the war: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Feith, Wolfowitz, and others should be doing time instead of having a good time. Today, Iraq is a broken country. Nothing will bring back the hundreds of thousands of dead. The U.S. owes Iraq reparations for the destruction it has caused. But being the global superpower means you never have to say you’re sorry or face justice. The permanent war economy feeds on conflict and strife. Is it utopian to imagine a different future?
It wasn't that long ago when the U.S. labeled the African National Congress as a terrorist organization. Its leader, Nelson Mandela languished for years in prison. Then because of massive grassroots movement and international support through boycott and divestment, Mandela is released and South Africa frees itself from its apartheid regime. Throughout history people have overcome tremendous odds to advance the cause of justice. Take the civil rights movement. What were African Americans up against? The entire apparatus of power from the courthouse to the statehouse was controlled by segregationists. And the federal government? Asleep at the wheel. Nevertheless, blacks organized and fought back. The key to the struggle was collective action. There's an African proverb that captures that spirit, "If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
The role of artists, writers, poets, actors, and musicians have an enormous impact on society. Because of the special place they occupy in people's hearts and minds their influence is central. Artists shine light into the dark crevices of the human psyche. They question, nudge and agitate. Bonnie Raitt, Michael Franti, Arthur Miller, Alice Walker, Rage Against the Machine, Bob Dylan, Arundhati Roy, Susan Sarandon all push and expand the parameters of permissible thought. In times of crisis and war, great artists provide comfort, hope, inspiration and understanding.
“Congress shall make no law…abridging freedom of speech.” There it is. Plain and simple. The First Amendment to the Constitution. But since 9/11 that amendment has been under sustained attack. Whistleblowers John Kiriakou, Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and others are hounded, threatened and imprisoned by the U.S. government. A fascinating and compelling account of past and present efforts to secure and expand political and social rights for workers, women and African-Americans. A classic Zinn from our archives.
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